The other day, an older white couple was walking side by side toward me on the sidewalk. They didn’t attempt to move single file which would have allowed me to walk on the sidewalk as well. They just kept walking toward me taking up the whole sidewalk, without any recognition that they were forcing me to either stop and wait for them to pass or move off the sidewalk all together. Instead of waiting for them to pass, I girded my 5’ tall self up and kept walking, allowing myself to bump up against the man as we passed each other. Did I just shoulder check him?
For most of my life, up until the past year, my first impulse was always to make myself smaller so I don’t inconvenience others. It’s the polite thing to do right? I’m barely 5 feet tall, how much smaller must I make myself? I’m done accommodating people who have no intention of accommodating me as well. The flip side to one-sided politeness is one-sided entitlement. My hospitality and accommodating demeanor (heavily informed by my gender and Filipino culture) has been convoluted with other people’s sense of entitlement and supremacy. Not today colonizer.
Just in case you didn’t catch it, this not just about my stature, it’s also about my race, ethnicity, gender, AND height. The couple did not see all of me. I know some of you may relate to this incident in some ways, but I need you to see ALL the ways something as small as walking on a sidewalk affects me on the daily. I need some of you my dear friends, to make room on the sidewalk for others. And I need some of my other dear friends to take up their space and stop making yourself smaller.
Thank you Todd for celebrating my space-taking with a “decolonized donut” lol. It helps to be affirmed that it’s not just me. And it really isn’t. Thanks to Melanie for showing me this similar blog post after I shared with her my own story. In the gym I used to work out in (used to…I used to work out, now I just eat donuts), they always reminded us to be spatially aware. If we weren’t, we could get hurt by others who were dropping heavy weights all around us. I think that’s a good thought to take wherever we go.
#decolonizethesidewalks #decolonizeairplaneandmoviearmreststoo #imalreadytoosmallforthisish #walkingtaller #takingupmyspace #intersectionalissues #NoYouMove